How would you answer the “how are you” question?
Recently, I talked to a couple of friends I haven’t spoken to in a long time and I realized this common trend to answering the “how are you” question.
“Still the same.”
That was the answer I get the most, and it puzzles me. Surely, there’s something different about you in the many years that we haven’t talked? Now I know this is often a patronizing question so the answer you get usually doesn’t tell very much about a person’s life. But it’s really the mentality and attitude towards life that I’m concerned about. Let me explain.
When you constantly have something new and exciting in your life, you would want to share it. If you just got your dream job or had a new baby, I don’t suppose life would still be the same for you. It would be heaps exciting, whether in a really good way or a really challenging way.
You might be thinking “but there’s really nothing new going on”. Then the question to ask is Why? Why haven’t you started something new? Why didn’t you make any changes or improvements in your life?
It doesn’t have to be something bombastic. Maybe just picking up a new hobby or trying out a new sport, or maybe even just doing the same things in a different way. It doesn’t even have to be great. You may be going through a rough patch, but how are you handling it to make sure you get through it?
I used to answer this question the exact same way. But I began to realize what an uninspiring answer that is. Does it reflect on the boring life I’m living? Is this really the story that I want to tell?
So I discovered there are many other things I could have said. My life may not be great right now, but there are a lot of things I’m learning and improving on. And when I share that, it reinforces my motivation to learn more and do better. Instead of downplaying the tiny milestones I’ve achieved, I should celebrate them as a way of self-affirmation and being grateful for the things in my life. And what gives me purpose for being open and honest about myself is that you never know when your perspective could impact someone’s life.
One thing I do to make sure I always have a good story to tell is aiming to be a little better this week than the previous week. I don’t want to be the same person as I was last week. Sure, there may be terrible and horrifyingly unmotivated weeks, but the goal is to never stop trying to be better. So whenever someone tells me I’ve changed a lot, I take it as a compliment. Because, thanks. It’s totally intentional and we should all never stop growing and evolving.
If someone’s really genuine about knowing how you’re doing, just sharing a highlight of your recent life can start a great conversation. But if you’re thinking hard and still find it difficult to say anything interesting about yourself, then probably it’s time that you start making small changes in your life that keep you inspired.
So… let’s try again. How are you?